CHAMP Plans To Sell Healthcare Australia

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian private equity firm CHAMP plans to sell Healthcare Australia (HCA), the nation’s largest nursing and aged care staffing business, and is close to appointing an adviser, the head of HCA told Reuters on Tuesday.

HCA has an enterprise value of about $320 million, according to a local press report.

HCA Chairman Nick Greiner said the Caliburn Partnership would advise CHAMP on options including a trade sale or initial public offer. He said it was likely this year but gave no time frame.

“We will be appointing Caliburn this week to help us look at the various options,” Greiner said in a phone interview.

CHAMP has owned HCA, which hires out nurses and other staff to hospitals, nursing homes and individuals, since 2005 when it bought the business from DB Capital Partners.

Many private equity firms are looking to take advantage of improved market conditions to exit investments made before the global financial crisis. HCA would be the third exit planned for this year by CHAMP.

Greiner said CHAMP would not prejudge whether an initial public offering or a sale would be more likely, but added the business had attracted trade interest in the past.

“There are certainly trade buyers who have expressed interest over the years from overseas as well as domestic ones,” he said.

Greiner said HCA had doubled in size and profitability since CHAMP took over, helped by six acquisitions, and that in-home care for the aged was the fastest growing part of the business.

CHAMP and Caliburn Partnership declined to comment.

The healthcare sector in Australia is large and growing, with an ageing population seen as insulating demand for health care services from the vagaries of the wider economy.

An unsourced report in the Australian Financial Review said on Tuesday that Healthcare Australia had an enterprise value of about A$350 million ($320 million).

By Victoria Thieberger

(editing by Mark Bendeich)